Complete Coverage - Carlsen-Caruana; WCC 2018
GM M. Carlsen & GM F. Caruana face off in a (FIDE) WCS Match in London, England. (Nov, 2018)

Complete Coverage - Carlsen-Caruana; WCC 2018

FLchessplayer
NM FLchessplayer
Nov 27, 2018, 8:07 PM |
24

Welcome to my blog! I thought - that since I have not seen ANY blog posting that goes along the lines of what I would like to see - that I would offer my thoughts on some of the games. Not only this, I thought that I would offer links to ALL the coverage(s) of the World Championship Match ... to include links to other sites. (Some of their coverage is quite good and also timely.) 

Make no mistake, the coverage (for the large majority of the time) by www.chess.com, has been outstanding! However, it is not the only coverage available!! Some of my favorite chess video's are on the CB server, they are succinct, well planned out and to the point. (My two favorite guys to watch are IM Danny King and also GM Karsten Mueller.) 

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There are also a few other links that you should be aware of. For example, in one of the Carlsen-Caruana games, my analysis indicated that their game dissection - which was almost universally accepted after the game was finished - was not correct! Unfortunately, I never finished my work ... for about three weeks now, I have been sick with the flu. (However, all is not lost! There is another user - on this site - who jumped in and did the job; I will provide a link to his blog, where it is appropriate.) 

I also want to link to the games on the "Chess Games" server. [Their replay board is bigger and easier on the eyes. If you are young and have great eyes ... fantastic! However, if you are like me (60) ... and your eyesight maybe isn't as good as it used to be ... then you might want to open one screen with the CG board ... and flip back-and-forth to the annotations here. Also, since some of the observations, analysis and trivia found on that site cannot be found anywhere else, you may enjoy reading the comments in the kibitzing section of each of the games.] 


You may also want to check out this article ... its very stimulating (for me).
---> It was on the "10 Most Exciting World Championships of All Time." 
(They left out one of the better matches ever played ... if you read my notes in the comments section, you can figure out which one I am talking about!) 


OK, let's get started, shall we? 

First things first:
Click here to see the CG page; click here to see the CB page ... ... ... for the 2018 WCC

I also wanted you to know that I predicted ... in several places ...
the very distinct possibility of all the classical games being drawn and of having to go to tiebreaks to decide the match. (For one example, see this forum/survey.) 

OK, the first thing I want to do is say "thanks" to this site! Did you know that other web sites ... (like "Chess24") want 10 bucks a month to watch the games? Gag, barf, yuk! (Other sites want a whole lot more.) So the first thing you need to know is how to watch the games.
(As I write this, November 26th, 2018; the play-off games have not yet been played.)   

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  • Game One: Caruana opened 1.e4, and Carlsen countered with the Sicilian. (A surprise in and of itself?) I was hoping for the Open Sicilian, instead we got a "Rossolimo Attack" instead. (B31 1.e4. c5; 2.Nf3, Nc6; 3.Bb5, g6; After Caruana's loss in this line - to Carlsen, in 2015 at Tata Steel - I was genuinely surprised to see Fabi willing to repeat this opening.) A key game in this line, would have to be: GM M. Adams - GM V. Kramnik / FIDE World Champ, (ko) / Las Vegas, NEV/USA, 1999. 

    White got no advantage out of the opening. Black sacked his f-Pawn and quickly got a nearly overwhelming King-side attack. However, Carlsen got rather short of time, lost his way and wound up missing several wins! (In the end, this turned out to be the longest game of the match, Carlsen - perhaps upset with himself - seemed unable to agree to a draw.) 

    Click here to see the CDC news story, click here to see GM Y. Seirawan's excellent video analysis of this game.   

  • Game Two Magnus was White and played 5.Bf4 in a Queen's Gambit. (D37) Fabi seemed unimpressed and banged out his moves pretty quickly. It seemed to me that Magnus was shocked by this turn of events, it was not even move 15, and they were already speaking of an advantage for Black. Magnus set a few traps, and we eventually reached an endgame with an extra Pawn for Black ... but it was a theoretical draw. (I would have pressed Magnus, but Fabi seemed content to draw so easily with the Black pieces.) 

    Click here to see the CDC news story for this round. 


  • Game Three Fabi was White and the players repeated the same opening as in Game One. However, Fabi came armed with several improvements  and played an early b2-b4!? Play seemed very balanced, neither player had much of an advantage. they traded Queens and went into an endgame. Then Magnus got a "Bishop-versus-Knight" endgame and seemed to have something cooking. However, Fabi had everything under control ... he sacked his Knight and traded a set of Pawns - it was an obvious draw. (White can just run his King into the corner, Black's Bishop was the wrong color to aid his Rook Pawn in the war for promotion.)  

    Click here to see the CDC news story for this round.  (Game #3.) 

  • Game FourAfter nearly getting waxed in the QGD in game two, Carlsen was obviously unwilling to repeat that opening. So, instead he opened 1.c2-c4. (The English.) Both players quickly brought out all four of their "horsies" and Carlsen played 4.g3. (This is a well known English line that has even seen some play at the highest levels.) Caruana countered by playing the relatively sharp 4...d5!?; which is basically ... an Open Sicilian - Reversed! (Fabi had played 4...Bb4; at the recent Olympiad, perhaps he was thinking Carlsen was well prepared for that line.) Things continued 'normally' until Fabi shot a big shell across Magnus's bow with the wild 6...Bc5!? (The kibitzers went nuts!) 

    Things got a little scary for a short time, but then a bunch of pieces got traded and we went into the endgame. (I stopped watching at that point, any result - other than a draw - would have been a big surprise!) They headed to a position where it looked like maybe Black had a tiny edge ... but then the players shook hands. (The game was drawn in well under 40 moves.) 

    Click here to see the article for this round, click here to see GM Yasser Seirawan's excellent video analysis of this game. 

  • Game Five:  Once more, Fabi was White, and the same opening as game one and game three was seen again. (Rossolimo Sicilian, B31; I expected a quick & easy draw.) However, instead of the (boring?) 4.BxN/c6; (as in games one and three), Caruana instead played 4.0-0. Both players continued to develop and now Fabi released yet another novelty with 6.b4!? (Turning the opening into somethink akin to the "Wing Gambit" in the Sicilian!!!) The Internet audience went wild and began running up checkmates by the score for Fabi. 

    However, somebody forgot to tell Carlsen, he found some nice moves and seemed to calm things down a bit. Caruana even missed several opportunities to make things really wild for Carlsen. After 15.Qc7, it became obvious that the ladies were coming off the board. Fabi's 17.c3!? was tame, the really key move was the sharp 17.d4!? (Maybe - '!') 

    After this, a lot of exchanges occurred and it quickly became obvious were headed for yet another draw. Click here to see the news article for this game.  

  • Game Six:  This was an incredible chess encounter that still has the whole chess world wondering "what could have been?" and did Black miss a forced win? 

    Carlsen - perhaps still searching for a nice opening line, he seems to be getting the worse of his games as White - tried 1.e4, today. Of course Fabi would play his favorite Petroff Defense, so what did Carlsen have in mind? After 1.e4, e5; 2.Nf3, Nc6; 3.NxP/e5, d6; Carlsen played the try 4.Nd3!? (This has been played by White quite a bit in recent master-level praxis. A lot of masters criticized Carlsen's opening choice, but I thought it was typical of the python that is Magnus Carlsen ... take this guy into the endgame and squeeze him to death!) 

    The game got VERY complex ... pretty quickly. The Queens got traded early, and a lot of pundits were predicting another quick and easy draw, however, the players refused to follow this script! At move 22. Carlsen had a wide array of moves. I liked the simple dxc5. Houdini showed 22.Bb5! gives White a nice (small) edge, and {after the game} Carlsen found 22.Ng2!! However, instead of all of these moves, Carlsen instead played the sick 22.Bc2?! (Maybe just - '?') 

    Play continued and Black got an edge that was slowly increasing. I did not like Carlsen's idea of 38.f4-f5!? Now time became part of the equation and both players had to hurry their moves ... and both players probably missed multiple chances and ideas in this extremely complex endgame. (I liked 40...NxP/a2! ... but, for some reason, Fabi did not play this.) 

    Eventually Carlsen was forced to give up a piece but he entered an endgame that was advertised to be a "book draw." (Also - both players had to rush many moves, being critically short of time.) However, after many moves, the following position was reached:  

    The game was drawn after a total of eighty moves!  

    Click here to see the news story for this game; click here to see Yermolinsky's video analysis of this entire game. (And click HERE to see Rocky64's blog, he may have found a better win!)  


The halfway point had been reached, thus far it looks like Caruana has played better.  
(Also - the colors get switched - so Magnus will have the White pieces in Game Seven.) 


  • Game Seven: In this encounter, Magnus repeated his QGD of an earlier round, but fixed the problems that plagued White in the second game. (Both sides played the opening pretty quickly.) A lot of pieces got traded and it soon became painfully obvious that yet another draw loomed on the horizon. (I had hopes that Carlsen got something going, having a great Knight vs. a partially bad Bishop in the endgame. However, Magnus had a weak pawn on g2, Caruana was able to force a draw - by repetition of moves - by repeatedly attacking this pawn.) The game was drawn in a total of forty moves. Click here to see the news story for this game.   

  • Game Eight:  In this game, Fabi again opened 1.e4 and Carlsen - again - played the Sicilian. (One kibitzer suggested Carlsen try 1...e5; and maybe even play the Petrov against Caruana, this would have been a master-stroke of psychology.) 

    Instead of the Rossolimo System - which, thus far had not showed much life - we have the Open Sicilian. Carlsen quickly heads for the Sveshnikov Sicilian with 5...e5. Perhaps Carlsen was expecting the main line, but Caruana lands the first big surprise punch with 7.Nd5!? (The 'normal' main line is reached via 7.Bg5.) A lot of people claimed White was much better out of the opening, but the simple reality was that the position was dead equal. 

    Well ... it was equal until Magnus uncharacteristically lashed out with a move one could almost label a beginner's move! (18...g5?) Normally, only a much lower-rated player would make this kind of move ... but, of course, a "Class C" player has neither Carlsen's tactical ability nor his defensive skills. Anyway, while I was pulling out what little hair I had left, Caruana was slowly frittering away his chances with the slow/silly 24.h3? (24.Qh5! and 24.Nc4! might both win.) After this, Carlsen carefully neutralized most of White's pressure, traded the ladies and went into an endgame that all the engines evaluated as "0.00." (Drawn in 38 moves.) 
    ---> Click here to see the news story for this round, click here to see GM Yasser Seirawan's excellent video analysis of this epic game.  


  • Game Nine This was an interesting encounter, Carlsen had maybe his only real chance to win since Game One, they played the same opening as Game Four. (An English.) However, this time Carlsen came prepared and played 9.Bg5. (I don't think that this had ever been played before between two GM's or between 2 strong players.) Caruana seemed a little shocked and slowly drifted into an inferior position. After 24...g6; the following position was reached:  

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    White played the very weak 25.h5? Instead 25.Bc6!, Rf8; 26.Kg2!, (with the idea of h4-h5 & Rh1) looks very close to a win for White, certainly Black has concrete problems in defending his position. (After missing this, the game slowly boiled down to a draw. The players actually played a long "Bishop-of-opposite-colors," but the result was never really in question.)   
    Click here to see the news article about this game. 

  • Game Ten IMO, this might have been the best played game of the whole match!!!!!  
    (A Sveshnikov Sicilian with 7.Nd5!? ECO Opening code, B33. I think that I could literally write a book on the nuances and the analysis of just this one game!!!)  

    They repeated the exact same opening as Game Eight, however, Caruana was the first to vary, throwing out 12.b4!?, instead of the Bd2 of that contest. (Fabi was probably thinking that Carlsen was better prepared for that idea by now.) 

    The key position came after 16...f5!?  

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    White played 17.a4-a5!? (Maybe - '!' Also possible was 17.f3!?) 

    After 17.a5, play became VERY forcing, both sides had to tread a very narrow path. White went for the "hog the Q-side" strategy while Black was obviously "all-in" on the King-side. 27.Bf1 was obviously OK, but I later wondered what was wrong with 27.Bb5!? (After 29.RxP/b4, Qe6; the engines are showing an eval of "0.00" again, I think that either side - if they wanted to win - had to avoid the sterility of these kinds of positions.) 33...Rf7!? and even 33...d5 looked like good ideas ... the online analysis might miss a few points. 34...Qe6! was also interesting.   

    Finally, after MANY twists and turns, the game slowly lost power and coasted to yet another draw in 50+ moves. (Strangely, Caruana, had an extra Pawn, but never tried to "punish" Magnus, the way that Magnus tortured Caruana in the first game.)  
    ---> Click here to see the news coverage and story for round ten. 
    ---> Click here to see GM Yasser Seirawan's excellent video analysis on this heroic battle! 

  • Game Eleven:  This game more closely resembled a "normal" Petroff opening, however it reminded me of a game played in the Candidates Tournament. (GM S. Karjakin - GM F. Caruana; FIDE Candidates/R12; 2018. See this blog for a detailed analysis of that game.) This game lacked the content of that clash, hwoever, I think that after some of their earlier struggles and the titanic effort that R10 must have required, maybe both players' gas tanks were close to empty. 

    The Queens came off after move 13. When Carlsen missed the easy 15.h3!, (One of my favorite opening moves - I even play it in bullet!); any real chance of an advantage went out the window. Although both players kept throwing punches, it was like shadow-boxing, the game was effectively over. (1/2-1/2 in 55 moves.) 
    ---> Click here to see the CDC news story for game eleven. 

  • Game Twelve In this game ... we saw a repeat of the opening in Game Eight and Game Ten. (Sveshnikov Sicilian, B33.) Instead of 8...Nb8; of Gm. #8, Carlsen instead played instead played 8...Ne7. This resulted in a very unbalanced position, with chances for both sides. I am not even sure what White did wrong, but after 29.Re1, the following position was reached: 

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    Now Carlsen played 29...a5-a4?! ('?')  [Much better was 29...Ba4!  '=/+'] This game petered out to a draw as well, although Carlsen was slightly better in the final position.  
    ---> Click here to see the news story for the last game of classical chess for this match.  

Who wins the match, especially once it goes to the tiebreaks??? (Rapid/blitz/armageddon., etc.) 
Click here to see a prediction, based solely on the CAPS system.  


One more link. (This one covers the rapid games.) The final report. (With lots of eye candy!) 
CG's history of the (chess) World Championship Title. (Each match has a link to that page! For me, this is an indispensible chess link, something I want around permanently at my fingertips!) 

"The End." (A witty look/wrap-up of the 2018 WCC Match.)  
GM G. Serper takes a look at the the match, and asks: "What went wrong?" (Click here.)   

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And now, a little indulgent, self-promotion: My web page on the Anand-Carlsen match
(I did my own analysis of each game, plus I have my own YT video of each game!) 

This is my web-page ... on Game Seven of the 2012 World Chess Championship.  
This is my web-page ... on Game Eight of the 2012 World Chess Championship.  

Also, my BLOG on game eight of the WCC Match between Carlsen and Karjakin. 
(I went back later and added links to all the games.) 

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And finally - the CG web page for the match (again) - between this page and the pages for the match, literally HUNDREDS of pages for kibitzing ... if you are curious, you occasionally find a nugget of info here that you cannot find anywhere else. 


I hope you enjoyed following this blog! Thanks for reading!!! I hope to see you again, real soon.  😎